Sometimes, amidst the excitement of a new project and a new season, worries creep in and threaten to steal our joy. Can I do this? What makes me think I’m qualified? Will I have the time? What if I fail? No one wants to be derailed by self-doubt, so Jordan Holman is here to share some helpful thoughts on how to overcome those negative thoughts and return to positivity.
As a writer, I know that we all have those tiny moments of self-doubt when it comes to our work, but what happens when those tiny moments turn into full-on negative thinking? I’m currently still working on my first novel and, at first, I found myself sporadically writing and then scrapping everything. I went through this process over and over until I almost got to the point where I thought I should just stop writing. Then, one day I got on Pinterest and saw something interesting. I saw this pin that talked about how Veronica Roth wrote a bestselling book before she even graduated college! That was something inspiring to me and it told me that if she could do it, then so could I. Self-doubt is something that not just every writer, but every person, struggles with. So when it comes to your writing, here are some tips to help get you out of your rut and back on track.
Give Yourself a Deadline
A major fear that has crossed all of our minds is that we can’t do it and it’s too big of a mountain to climb. I know it has crossed my mind more than a time or two. Giving yourself a deadline for your project is a way of keeping you on track. That way you can write as little or as much as you want to everyday. You can break down your big project as you build your confidence. Even if you write 500 words a day, that will help break down the mountain of work so it’s not so daunting.
Make Yourself Write
Making yourself write may not seem like the best way to go, but you don’t have to work on your project all of the time. During the summer, I wrote short stories, alternate endings to books—anything that kept me writing. Working on different projects refreshes your mind and opens it up to new ideas that you may not have considered before.
Find the good in your work
Not all of your work is going to be perfect. In the past, I’ve come up with an idea that I loved, then two weeks later, I hated myself for even thinking it up. It’s okay to realize that some ideas may not be right for some stories, but it’s also okay to find the good in your ideas.
Make an outline
A common fear for writers is not knowing where the story is going; that can become an overwhelming thought. If this is a struggle for you, an outline can make the project more manageable. For helpful tips on creating an outline, check out these posts at She’s Novel and Now Novel.
Along with other art forms, writing requires creativity. It is an outlet that allows a person to express their ideas and ultimately themselves. To get inspired, try reading, watching a movie, or exploring your neighborhood. If you’re having trouble finding inspiration where you live, then take a trip on Pinterest. It has a lot of cool ideas you can try out.
Believe in Yourself
Cliché, I know, but it’s true. Like I said before, I used to think that I should give up writing. I thought that my work wasn’t good enough for other people to read. Once I surrounded myself with people who believed in my abilities, that led to me believing in myself. The change didn’t take place overnight; I actively worked on my confidence by submitting stories for contests, blogging to get more practice, and enlisting others to read my story. If you believe in yourself and your ability to learn and grow, then you’ll be able to improve your craft. You’ll see the improvements in your writing and will gain confidence in your ability to finish that project and make it awesome.
I know that self doubt is a struggle for a lot of first-time novelists. However, I believe that these struggles that we endure make us not only better writers, but better people. Your literary journey will be full of ups and downs, but if you persevere, you’ll get to the pot of gold, the heroic rescue, or whatever else awaits at the end of your story.
Jordan Holman is a College Junior who is currently working on her first novel. She studies Media Industries with minors in Communication Studies and English. She is from St. Louis, MO but wants to attend NYU to obtain a Masters in Publishing.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Elise Edmonds says
Great tips! We all have ups and downs. It also helps to find a writers group (online or offline) to chat to and share self-doubts and encourage each other 🙂
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I agree–so good to have a tribe of writers for support and to learn together!
Traci Kenworth says
Some good advice. Sometimes the journey gets difficult and lonely, but there’s always a new turn in the day and tomorrow things may be better.
BECCA PUGLISI says
The writing journey is difficult, filled with so many distractions and discouragements—both external and internal. But one of the things that makes it easier is the writing community, which I’ve always found to be incredibly supportive. Thanks for sharing, Jordan!
Thanks for giving my the oppotunity Becca!
Crystal Collier says
For many people is kids-are-back-in-school, time-to-write season. For me it’s juggle-the-home-schooling-and-pray-you-get-some-writing-in. Here’s to the crazy season!
BECCA PUGLISI says
Oh, gosh. You’re so right. Everyone isn’t in my particular boat. Best of luck keeping all those balls in the air!
Carol Baldwin says
All true, all true!
Jordan Holman says
Thanks Carol! I wanted to write something that a lot of writers could relate to.